Sometimes it’s hard to live abroad when you feel that the right thing to do is be at home and fight for what you believe is right. This is why I am so happy I was able to join about 500 other people, mostly Americans, in Berlin in the March for our Lives rally on Saturday. This number pales in comparison to the marches in New York, D.C, and so many other cities in the United States, but it meant a lot for us to show our solidarity from where we were in Berlin.
It was incredibly moving to hear the words of American students living in Berlin, many of them third culture kids, and all of them under 18, speaking out. Standing in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate, we listened to their articulate words which demanded that we in the crowd, as well as their government at home, hear them as the adults they are and will be. I heard rage in their voices at what they see as the refusal of their government to protect them, but also the hair-raising notes of determination and belief that they have the energy to change something for themselves and for their country. I had tears in my eyes listening to them. And most strikingly, I watched their peers from around the world, from Mexico, Nigeria, Australia and so many other countries, stand alongside their American friends in solidarity.
If I’m honest, I’m confused about why we are even marching for this. Who is it that we are pleading with to keep our people safe? Do not most of us have or will one day have children who go to school? I am sure there is no parent, no matter their political party, who want their children going to school with the thought that they might never come home again. And as a student, I know that you shouldn’t be worried about being shot in the place where you should feel the most safe. Where is the argument?
This leads me to believe that it is the elected officials who have something to lose. It is certainly not every day parents, teachers, and students who do not want a change and who turn their backs on every family, school, and community that is ravaged by yet another shooting.
If you are arguing against change, I must ask you, why? Is it a stubbornness to yield against your party lines? Is it your inexposure to the pain and tragedy that these killings have cost others? Will it take the loss of your own child’s life to change your mind?
I can tell you, that our “thoughts and prayers” haven’t gone far enough to prevent another shooting. It will only be each and every one of our decisions to add action, our right to vote, and our ability to do the right thing that will save lives that need not be lost.
As an American, it is easier to understand than a foreigner than our country does have a “gun culture” that is deeply rooted in our heritage and will be difficult to change. But it is getting harder and harder to defend that “culture” to our peers in the international community who want to know why we can’t or won’t do something about it.
Americans, wake up. This is our issue, uniquely and specifically our own. And we’ve got to admit to it. It’s time to make a change.